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Throwing Sh*t at a Wall and calling it Recruitment

By November 29, 201210 Comments

What is recruitment?  There are many different answers to this question but for us in the agency recruitment world, it is essentially the act of representing a client’s business and filling a vacancy by marketing their employment opportunity to the jobseeker market.  Of course, this has greatly evolved over the years and now includes headhunting, marketing to passive jobseekers, offering unbundled services and even outplacement services.

It has also evolved to the point where the traditional recruitment approach is flipped on its head and one candidate is proactively marketed out to a variety of different employment opportunities.  This is prevalent in talent-scarce roles where the rare and unique skills of an individual mean that a recruiter can have the pick of clients to represent the candidate into.  The dynamic shifts, with the key relationship being between the recruiter and candidate, as opposed to the recruiter working on behalf of their client.  You might witness this shift for hard-to-fill roles such as fire engineers, enterprise architects or, yes, even agency recruitment consultants (who are any good).

I’ve always referred to this process as reverse marketing.  Over the years I have also developed an understanding of hierarchy amongst reverse marketing practices:

  1. Recruitment Consulting:  Properly qualifying a candidate, interviewing in person, agreeing on opportunities to present them to and then calling prospective employers to market the candidate in and arrange interviews.
  2. Post and Pray:  Following the above procedure but, as often happens these days, failing to connect with the employer over the phone, so having to fall back onto a well-worded, intelligent, relevant e-mailing of the CV for a position you know that company are looking to fill.  And then praying your candidate gets an interview.
  3. The Float:  Similar to above but without any prior knowledge of specific vacancies within an employer and presented in a way of “just to make you aware” but really actually struggling to add value to the recruitment relationship.
  4. Flick and Stick:  The most base of recruitment practices with a CV spammed out to multiple employers, sometimes even without the candidate’s prior knowledge, in the vain hope that one such employer might just happen to need someone with those skills and be begrudgingly forced into seeing the candidate with the millstone of a large fee hanging around their neck.  In a more crude sense this can be compared to throwing sh*t at the wall and seeing what sticks.

An e-mail received by an internal recruiter was recently brought to my attention.  Which of the reverse marketing techniques above would you say it falls within?  By the way, names have been removed for confidentiality reasons (and hysterical throwing-toys-from-pram reasons), and I’ve changed the job title to er…Pig Hunter…just for the hell of it:

Hi xxxx

By way of introduction, I specialise in the recruitment of Pig Hunting professionals for XYZ Recruiters. XYZ Recruiters has been established in New Zealand for 1000 years and we have a demonstrable track record in recruiting for pig hunting roles including: Hunt Planner, Pig Manager, Pig Stick Coordinator, Pig Sty Manager, Pig Carrying Coordinator, both on a Contract and Permanent basis.

I have recently interviewed an exceptional Pig Hunter with strong experience in the Hunting Industry. I have attached a full resume for your review and included a brief profile below:

* Over nine years experience in Pig Hunting

* Managed SAP role out into pig sty

* Weekly reporting on stock sold on a weekly basis

* Analysis of kills both up close and with firearms

* Liaison with external and internal stakeholders developing and strengthening
relationships to achieve hunting targets

If you have any questions regarding the candidate, or wish to discuss any other recruitment requirements, do not hesitate to contact me by email or on 0800 PIG HUNTERS.

Many Thanks


Now I know we are in tough times and in the agency recruitment world we need to find some wins wherever we can.  This was a nicely worded e-mail that represented the candidate in a professional way.  But let’s be honest about things here.  There is no intent to build a worthwhile relationship with the employer or internal recruiter, no genuine insight into that business’s requirements, nothing being added to the recruitment relationship beyond the hope that one of any number of companies this was sent to might just need this hard-to-find position filled and might just happen to be interested in this candidate and end up coughing up a fee.

This isn’t to single anyone out, I worry that this behaviour goes on way too often in recruitment and really cheapens our offering (while we continue to claim huge value for large fees).  But how about this?  In this instance, amazingly, said internal recruiter actually responded to the approach, and also shared the e-mail with me:


Hi there xxxx,

Thank you for referring xxxx’s CV over to me.

Whilst xxxx has some very good experience he doesn’t quite fit what we would be looking for as an organisation if we were recruiting for this role, Pig Hunting means different things to different hunters and we would be looking for someone with recent experience in the pork sector. It is a good idea to find out exactly what clients are looking for in a Pig Hunter as opposed to floating a CV in the hope that the client might just have a vacancy and the candidate might just fit what they are looking for.

Then you have the added “hurdle” of the internal recruitment function who will of course want to try and recruit for the position themselves before outsourcing to an agency then even when they do you come across the “preferred supplier agreements”. I totally appreciate it is hard work out there right now for an agency recruiter so one tip I would give
you (as a former agency recruiter) is pick up the phone and talk to potential Clients, you work for an awesome brand and have a fabulous Manager (I am assuming xxxx is your Manager) who is incredibly respected and well regarded within the industry and he can give you some really good pointers as to the best way to market candidates like xxxx and to establish your networks within the industry.

It would also be a good idea to cover off the gaps on xxxx’s CV between June 09 and May 11 and August 11 up until present day as it is not clear what xxxx has been doing during those times.

I hope this feedback is useful and please don’t think I am being critical, I have been in your shoes and know it’s an uphill battle out there right now.

All the best and just give me a call if you have any questions.

Kind regards,


This all happened a couple of weeks ago and as yet there has been absolutely no response from the agency recruiter.  Clearly it’s tough out there right now but can recruiters really afford to pass up an opportunity like this to connect with a potential future client?  To accept the invitation to make a phone call and actually connect in a meaningful way that might one day bring real value to the recruitment relationship?

Maybe the recruiter is on holiday…maybe a really looooong holiday from recruitment.  I certainly hope so because if all you want to do is flick and stick and never take the opportunity to build a relationship, then really what is the point?

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Aman says:

    Enjoy your blog posts! Awesome read!

  • Guest says:

    Kudos to the internal recruiter for actually acknowledging the email but to be honest the response is patronising. “I have been in your shoes”… and I bet you were really good too

  • Mark says:

    Awesome post and yet again hitting the nail on the head. Not sure how the response is patronising, I have seen far worse and offering some advice if it is taken is the internal recruiter actually trying to work better with the agency recruiter.

  • Guest2 says:

    Agree that the internal response is patronizing, though it may not have been intentional. 

  • Guest says:

    I don’t think that is a patronising response, it was good honest feedback and hopefully will help that recruiter do the job better. It was also an invitation to call, Why didn’t they call! 

  • Guest says:

    This is a rolled gold opportunity for the recruiter to develop a quality relationship with the potential client, who obviously already has a good idea as to who the agency is and in fact seems to have some respect for them.

    “Flick and stick” is the most frustrating thing to compete against, I work in a very niche technical market sector and only have a few direct competitors, the main approach they seem to take is flick and stick (mostly without candidate knowledge). Not only is this unethical, it is dead wrong to be sharing someone’s personal information without their consent – How can you justify that your “service” is worth a substantial fee when you’ve met a candidate (hopefully) and sent a generic email around to everyone you know?

    The frustrating thing about this practice is that this recruiter will likely get some interviews out of it and possibly uncover some jobs, maybe even wind up with a placement, so reinforcing this behaviour.

    If all you do is meet candidates and spam CVs out to market, you are not “recruiting” and in fact may be putting the candidate at risk.

    Just sayin’

  • Joddle100 says:

    I imagine the best way to stop this practice would be to refer the emails to the “respected Manager” I am sure he/she would welcome the information

  • Alipauljy says:

    Good post. Perhaps we should also consider the bigger picture in Agency land first and foremost this is an opportunity for training. What sort of leadership has this recruiter had? How is he/she measured? More than likely the manager is a great recruiter promoted into a leadership role for great personal achievements not their ability to develop and empower others to reach their potential and motivating their team by archaic stats on quantity not quality. Recruitment is an industry where if the team isn’t performing the team is sacked – not the coach.
    As to the emailed response – all the differing opinions reinforces email is purely a transmission as it is read, not a form of communication. Case in point.

  • Lesley Hardy says:

    That was the nicest and most supportive response I have ever seen from an internal recruitment professional to an agency recruiter.  If that was me (not that I would do that in the first place), I would pick up the phone and personally thank the person for their care and consideration, apologise, asking to take that person out for coffee so I could get to know the business better.  Having been on both sides of the fence, I know that everything is an opportunity 🙂

  • JoelD says:

    Good response from the internal recruiter.

    Reverse marketing has it’s pros and cons and doing it well takes time and experience. Whether you FAB, SPIN, etc. it helps to have a better pitch and (IMO) done over the phone, then followed up by email once telephone contact and interest has been established. Let’s hope the candidate gave their permission to be represented in such a way.